Class of 2020 prepares for new demographics

Desmond Wilkerson, Contributor

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A program for SGA’s Junior Week,  Black Man, White Office provided Aggies with an outlook on how to tackle the predominantly white workforce.

Enrolling into a HBCU such as N.C. A&T is said to be a life-changing experience for most Black young adults, as attendance allows Black students the comfortability of being around those that understand them culturally, socially and mentally.

Due to the University having a majority of the African-American population, students must prepare for the change in dynamic within the workforce setting after college.

Allison Gilmore, Junior Class President and journalism and mass communication student, invited guest speaker and Chief of Staff for Congressman G.K. Butterfield, Troy Clair.

“As an intern for Troy, I have seen this presentation beforehand and felt that it would add great value and knowledge to our HBCU,” said Gilmore.

Clair wanted the audience to understand they cannot settle into the White man’s workforce, but change the system to where they are employing the same amount of Whites in their own companies.

One in every four Black children has experienced at least one parent in jail by the age of 14, according to Clair. He also presented the suicide rates for Black children, which is twice that of White children.

The Black children that commit suicide start as early as age five-years-old. When Troy acknowledged this statistic, the audience was appalled that a five-year-old child could have the capability and problems to take their own life.

Over the past few years, the number of Black Chief Executive Officers of fortune 500 companies have been three people. By 2053, the median Black household wealth is expected to be zero. Clair, along with the audience, believed that all of these statistics are related to one another.

Clair also posed two questions to the audience: “Why are you mad?” and “Do you matter?.”

Different students responded to the first question with their frustrations. Many mentioned the topics of how Blacks are seen as inferior to the White race, how they must work twice as hard, as a white person because of the extreme judgment placed upon their skin color.

The second question was rhetorical as most individuals believe they matter. However, Clair’s mission was to show who the students mattered to and why they mattered. Students believe they matter to loved ones and family. Students also agreed Black people mattered to whites due to the prevalence of oppression on Blacks in the workforce.

The discussion is based on the premise that students must change the game and instead of merely playing along.

“The main thing an employer asks, is ‘How does this person add value to my company?’,” said Clair.

His “Steps to Changing the Game” include learning the game, knowing your value, growing your value and showing your value.

Clair desires for Black students to understand they must be students of the game and acknowledge their skills and show and improve them in order to change the game.

There are four aspects of the game plan a student must focus on. These are passion, purpose, preparation, and potential.

Clair presented his outlook on chasing after money instead of pure passion.

“If we don’t use our talent to define our purpose, ultimately we’re chasing someone else’s dream,” said Clair.

Clair believes that following your passion will eventually bring in the money.

Students were encouraged to acknowledge their potential and passion to fulfill that potential. When a student finds his or her niche, they can discover the purpose for using this skill and utilize the rest of their effort into preparation for changing the game.

Clair also mentioned Rosa Parks, Colin Kaepernick, Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, and their communities in terms of changing the dynamics within their career fields.

Thoughtful planning is how Black students can change the workforce game to create better opportunities for those just like them and be the employer instead of the employee, according to Clair.

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